To be released after one loss in the early days of the UFC was not uncommon. With only a handful of events each year, limited space and a profit margin sometimes in the red, the company could ill afford to keep fighters on its roster that did not perform up to company standards.
Things have since changed however, and the UFC is in such high demand that fighters often get multiple chances before being removed; which is why Chris Camozzi’s release from the company earlier this year following his only loss in the promotion makes it a head-scratcher.
“Yeah I was surprised, because you get a few guys who get a couple losses in a row and they keep them,” said Camozzi. “I don’t really know how they do it, and I can’t really explain it. All I can do is get on a winning streak and get back in the UFC eventually.”
Despite winning all but one fight with the company, Camozzi feels that perhaps his performance against Kyle Noke was uninspired enough to trigger his release. He’s not planning to make such a mistake again when he face Joey Villasenor at Shark Fights 15 in Albuquerque, N.M. on Friday night.
“If you don’t perform, you don’t have a job,” he said. “(Against Noke) I just got caught off guard a little bit – everyone gets caught – he was able to finish me. (Because of that) I kind of knew my release was coming, but I was hoping it wasn’t.
“It motivated me more – but too bad it had to come from a loss to get more motivation – but it helped me push more in the gym, learn things, seek out help in other areas.”
After such a disappointing performance against Noke, Camozzi is expecting a slugfest with Villasenor.
“That’s the first thing I thought when they gave me the match-up,” he said. “He’s known for that, and I’m always game to have that kind of fight too.
“He’s been at this a long time and has more experience than me, but I’m not new to the game either. I think our styles match up well and it should be a good test for me. He likes to throw and so do I. I’m going to push the pace and come out on top.”
Having been submitted in three of his four losses, Camozzi has worked to shore up that part of his game should the fight unexpectedly go to the ground.
“I used to do a lot of straight grappling and straight stand-up and (it’s in the transitions between the two) where I was getting caught in fights,” he said.
“Now I feel better in the mix; in the scrambles and everything. I’m not getting submitted all the time in the gym, and I can roll with the high-level guys.”
For the time being, Camozzi will rebuild his career in Shark Fights with the hopes of one day returning to his former promotion.
“Shark Fights gave me a three-fight deal and we’ll see where that takes me,” he said. “It’s not exclusive, so I’d like to go to Strikeforce possibly, but ultimately I’d like to get back to the UFC.
“If it has to be next year, it will, but if I get three solid fights and three solid wins, I think the UFC would be willing to take me back.”
While his exit from the UFC may have been unexpected, Camozzi intends to make the most of the situation and show the company he’s worth a second chance.
“To the fans, come watch me and Joey throw down; it’s going to be a great fight. I think you’re going to see a new fighter in me with a new hunger to win.”